Acting on tips from an informant, Statesboro Police SWAT and other officers surrounded an apartment Thursday and fired several rounds of gas containers through doors and windows, seeking a burglary suspect they thought were inside.
After the gas cleared and officers entered, however, no one was home, said Statesboro Public Safety Director Wendell Turner.
Statesboro Police Det. Keith Holloway obtained information Thursday about a person living in a Stadium Walk apartment who could be linked to several thefts and burglaries in the apartment complex area, he said.
Armed with a search warrant, about 15 officers from the Statesboro Police Crime Suppression Unit, SWAT, Emergency Response Team (ERT) and patrol officers rolled into the apartment complex around 5 p.m., he said.
Officers exited their cars and used a PA system to make announcements to the person suspected to be inside the apartment, Turner said. Other officers positioned themselves around the apartment to ensure the suspect did not escape.
Each announcement was noted over police radio as the PA calls were made. Officers also were overheard on a scanner discussing firing “ferret rounds” with a 12 gauge shotgun.
Turner said ferret rounds are small plastic gas cylinders filled with chemicals similar to pepper or OC spray. One officer stated over the air that one 12-gauge ferret round did not penetrate the apartment door, but Turner said several rounds fired with a .37 millimeter gun did penetrate the door.
Rounds also were fired through the apartment windows.
Sterling Ives, a Georgia Southern University student who lives in the apartment complex, was asleep with the raid began, but awoke to see crowds of people, some being questioned by officers, around the empty apartment.
“There were four or five cop cars, a fire truck, and a white SWAT van,” he said. “There was a dog searching cars, and they had fans in the apartments, with windows and doors open trying to get the gas out.”
Ives said he did not know who lives in the apartment, but said several men with a number of small dogs reside there.
Turner said once the gas rounds were deployed, officers entered the home, but no one was there. He did not comment on whether any evidence was found that could be linked to reported thefts or burglaries, citing the fact that the investigation is ongoing.
The incident was startling, Ives said.
“I was a little alarmed and surprised,” he said. “I thought something really bad had happened.”
Anyone with information about any burglaries or thefts in the Stadium Walk area, or regarding any crime, is asked to call the Statesboro Police Department at (912) 764-9911.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.